Labour demonising Muslims

The Labour peer, Lord Nazir Ahmed, has accused the Government of sustaining “a constant theme of demonising” the Muslim community. Lord Ahmed told BBC Radio 4’s ‘Sunday’ programme that it had become fashionable amongst ministers to “have a go at the Muslims”.

Criticising the way the Government treats Muslims in the UK, Lord Ahmed argued: “If you look at every bit of rhetoric that has been coming out of the Government departments and very senior people it has been sort of targeting at the Muslim community leadership. That has opened up a way for the neocons, the right wing people who have been attacking the Muslims. Islamophobia has become a contemporary form of racism.”

Asked whether he was accusing the Government of putting out a coordinated plan to demonise Muslims, Lord Ahmed responded: “Well it seems like that. The Prime Minister talked about the Muslim leadership not doing enough when 100 of us were working throughout the whole year – those of us involved with the 7/7 inquiries – all of us together worked with the Government. That is why we made 64 recommendations and how many did the Government implement? Well I think there is only probably one, or one and a half.”

Lord Nazir insisted the Muslim community was working hard to stem the fermentation of extremism within localities.

Yet he was less complimentary of governmental efforts, as he rhetorically stated: “What has the Government done in terms of parallel communities, deprivation, ghettos that exist with the Muslim communities? There is a desperate need for economic regeneration and also economic and financial help in those communities so they can also enjoy the wealth of our nation.”

His comments come on the back of the row sparked by Jack Straw who last week revealed he asks Muslim women attending his surgery to remove the full-face veil.

On the rhetoric deployed at a governmental level, Lord Ahmed stated: “It seems like a constant theme of demonisation of the Muslim community and that is unacceptable.” Lord Ahmed was quick to head-off suggestions that he was proposing such issues should not be debated in the public domain. And stressing how the Muslim community was currently thrashing out the issue of the veil itself, the Labour peer contrasted that against the “headline grabbing” actions of ministers.

He argued: “It is fashionable these days to have a go at the Muslims, it is fashionable because it is politics of fear and let’s be honest, there are people in our community who call themselves Muslims who have been threatening our national security, but it is very unfortunate. But the problem is that the politicians and some people in the media have used this for demonisation of the entire communities, which has become a very fashionable thing today,” he said.

BLINK news report, 16 October 2006